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Bus Tiny Home Conversion Part Three

school bus conversion debt free project

The Wild Drive #buslife Recap Part Three – Work, Work, and Inspiration Galore.

Buying a bus is not a decision to take lightly.

We’re over a year into things and approaching the end of our conversion so we’ve had a lot of time to reflect. Though “tiny” in size, this is a BIG deal and an even bigger investment of your time, energy, patience, resourcefulness, and yes, money. We’ve always been really hard workers, putting 110% into everything we do, fueled in recent years by everything you’re reading about in these recaps. Anyhow, we’ve worked a lot of hours, weekends, and holidays to make this dream possible. It didn’t just happen magically, although that would have been pretty cool.

the wild drive bus conversion tiny living blog
One day there’s a tipping point in the bus conversion process. It all goes from completely overwhelming to AH-freakin-mazing.

The purpose of doing this, for us (and for many bus lifers and van lifers out there) is to be and stay debt-free, flexible, and mobile. Efficient simple living is one glorious way to achieve that. 

Ben and I would NOT have jumped into this bus conversion adventure unless we knew that we could pay for everything without incurring any additional debt. I just wouldn’t have. That’s just me. Because now and moving forward, everything is 100% ours to enjoy.

Without having those conversations and plans regarding these realities, you may run the risk of not following through, not being able to sustain the dream, or being stressed out, and that’s no fun. To add icing on the challenges to expect cake, there’s also the element of disbelief, often times doubt, and the like received from the world around you. Overall, it’s a tough and emotional road. I don’t mean to scare anyone, those are just the beautiful facts.

school bus tiny home conversion wild drive
Beastly beast of a bus tire!

We all have our own life adventures to design, but, my biggest piece of advice for anyone interested in the tiny living lifestyle, is to make sure that you can afford and budget for the WHOLE darn thing, start to finish, and still live comfortably. You’ll be thankful you did.

That said…

Converting a bus is hands down the BEST decision we’ve ever made together.

Besides getting married… duh.

ben and meagan poirier school bus tiny home conversion
“Jamie Palamino… you’re my best friend” I also said that in our wedding vows. Again, super weirdos from the get go.

SKOOLIES (a school bus converted into a tiny home) weren’t as trendy when we purchased in early 2016 as they are now, and even still, this is a unique path to travel along, but if it feels right, you’ll find a way to make the dream work.

prison bus tiny home conversion project debt free
More dirty work than you ever thought possible. All worth it!
bus conversion debt free lifestyle
Our bus as of July 17, 2017.

The journey to tiny living (and we’re not even living in it full time yet!) has brought us SO much joy, a sense of accomplishment, problem solving wizardry, confidence, and more! I wouldn’t trade it for a second and I think Ben would wholeheartedly agree on that. 🙂 

SO, now back to that frisky February day in 2016.

We stopped to our bank, withdrew some cash, shamelessly told the bank teller all about how, “WE’RE GOING TO PICK UP A 31 FOOT PRISON BUS, YAY, AREN’T YOU PUMPED FOR US?!” and hit the road. We also had to stop at the BMV to get temporary transportation plates which was very simple. The lady that helped us happened to be an RV enthusiast so that worked out in the conversation department.

I tried one last time before signing the bill of sale to use my northern Maine thrifty charm and haggle a lower price, but, alas, no go. The owner gave Ben a quick five-minute tutorial on driving the bus and where to go to fill up on fresh diesel before hitting the highway and off we went without a clue as to how the bus would fare with 90 miles of driving.

the wild drive bus tiny home blog
Making sure nothing is going to fall off on the highway.

We enlisted the help of a friend to drive with Ben in the bus while I followed in our car with Moose (our dog). The looks we got from people passing by on Highway 95 were EPIC. I laughed, a lot. It’s not every day you see a faded black and chipped red hellion of a bus with bars on the windows just casually rolling up the highway. I get it.

I was a little protective of her even then, “Hey! This is OUR BUS! Give her a chance!” haha.

She road like a DREAM.

A prison bus tiny home builder in the making!

I was recently asked about what the most difficult part of the bus conversion/skoolie life process has been so far.

You may think I’d say the dirty work, and there was a lot of it. But no, it wasn’t muscling our gigantic ceiling panels through the tiny prison cage door openings so we could insulate, dealing with 30 year old old bolts and rivets, or spending weeks treating and cleaning our metal floor.


We experienced the most difficult part on day one: the basic logistics. The question of WHERE to park your bus coupled with the immediate fear and unknown of how/if you’ll be able to register and inspect your bus. But hey, this is what we signed up for… a challenge.

Resigning to deal with the registration and inspection another day… we were happy to at least find parking and storage right away. Thanks to the gracious generosity of friends, we coordinated a place to park it on day one, and a place to move it to a few weeks later to begin our conversion work. Our hearts were happy.

the wild drive bus conversion tiny home
Ben LOVES taking pictures.

The bus got our wheels turning (no pun intended). We wanted a place of our own, but wanted it to be OURS, on OUR terms.

Once we had a taste of the FREE feeling behind making that last student loan payment, we started attacking our car loans. Things started connecting.

We wanted to build our bus, and we wanted complete debt freedom.

Get alllll caught up in our prison bus tiny home conversion process:

Part One – Debt Annihilation

Part Two – Mad Max prison bus, anyone? 

Part Three – Work, work, and inspiration!

Part Four – Then & Now

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